Hindu last rites or Muslim? Surat man’s kin fight it out

The body of a man lies in a morgue here as his wife and other relatives are squabbling about what should be the last rites.

Written by Kamaal Saiyed | Surat | Published: February 23, 2012 2:21 am

The body of a man,who was born Hindu but had converted to Islam a few years ago,lies in a morgue here as his wife and other relatives are squabbling about what should be the last rites.

The police have left the matter to the court to be decided.

The 50-year-old truck driver,Bharat Thakker,a native of Seth street in Bardoli taluka of Surat district,was killed in a road accident on Tuesday and his body was sent New Civil Hospital in Surat for post mortem,police said.

He married one Tinu Patel four years ago,and the couple had two children.

Police said the couple had regular fights over different issues,following which they got separated and Bharat started staying with his two children.

Later,he came in contact with Fatema Shaikh,a widow who was staying with her four children.

Subsequently,he converted to Islam and changed his name as Mohammed Siraj Shaikh and married Fatema in 2007 as per the religion at Kamrej taluka in Surat district.

He got his marriage registered in a court and lived together with Fatima’s four children from her first husband who died in a road accident a few years ago.

However,Bharat’s children Rajan and Ruchita also changed their religion to Islam along with their father and even Ruchita alias Afrin also got married to one Zoher Shaikh,who resides in neighbouring areas.

On Tuesday afternoon,on his way to a nearby village from Bardoli,Bharat was hit by a speeding bus killing him on the spot on Kadodara highway in Surat district. Kadodara police took charge of the body and informed his family members about the incident.

While Bharat’s present wife wants to bury her husband according to the Islamic tradition,his mother,brother and other relatives want to perform last rites as per Hindu custom,which led to a verbal fight between the two families,police said.

Fatema with her brothers and children came to the hospital to taking custody of his body. While on the other side,Bharat’s mother Veenaben along with a few relatives turned up to get possession of the body.

As none of the parties was willing to back down,Bharat’s body was sent to the morgue and the police approached a local court in Palsana to solve the dispute.

Bardoli Police Inspector C J Rajput said,“This is a critical situation and we don’t have power to whom we should handover the body. So we have taken up the issue before court.

“At present,we have kept the body in morgue at New Civil Hospital and after courts direction we will handover the body to concerned party.”

Talking to The Indian Express Bharat’s son Suhel Shaikh said,“We are the legal heirs to claim the body of my father and I believe we will get it. My grandmother and my uncles (Bharat’s mother and brothers) had broken relations with us after my father got married to Fatema. We all are staying happily since last four years and we don’t have any problem. We were not forced to convert our religion. The strange thing is,after so many years now my grandmother and uncles have come up to take possession of body of my father.”

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